Chelsea, New York
Artsicle artist Charlie Grosso’s gallery, Baang and Burne Contemporary, is not a typical Chelsea affair. On the gallery’s website is a cultural manifesto of sorts: there is a send up of the typical white cube gallery with its icy attendants from whom a faint hostility emanates. These galleries provide art that is inaccessible, and an experience that is unpleasant but forgettable. Baang and Burne, however, seeks to provide a chance encounter with elation, and the gallery is run like an indie rock band. No PhD in art history? They absolutely want the pleasure of your company.
At the opening of the current show, Boys Don’t Cry , this was clear. The art on display that night, by Joseph Cultice, Chris Jehly, and Rich Tu, was of different mediums but united through a mining of the inner psyche to reveal hopes, fears, questions without answers, and desires.
Joseph Cultice’s photography series, The Garden, explores the universal tension between the desire for hedonistic pleasures and the simpler satisfaction gained from accomplishing the quotidian requirements of life. The photos of rendered in a large scale, lush format, with surrealist elements thrown in that become subversive once we realize that the subjects are the photographer and his family.
The pieces presented by Rich Tu are also in a large format, but in the place of the abundant detail of Cuttice's work, we find a stark minimalism that runs against the trend of color-saturation popular in of contemporary art. From the hauntingly named series There Will be No Survivors comes works that delivers dark humor mixed with irony and layered over vulnerability. The images are aggressive and unsettling, often depicting violence, extreme discomfort, or self-inflicting pain. The absence of color blocks any distraction from the visceral reaction these drawings demand.
The work of the last artist in the show, Chris Jehly, is again large scale. Jehly has drawn on history to inform his work, using cartoons and comic books from the 1930s and 1940s to contextualize and manipulate his images. As a result, some of the more unsavory aspects of the social and political codes of the era become highlighted and satirized. What is perhaps most interesting, though, is that Jehly does not believe that there need be a particular orientation to his pieces: he works without using a pencil as a sketching guide, and turns the canvas as he goes, belying street art roots.
Boys Don't Cry is on view October 4-November 8th at Baang and Burne Contemporary, 548 W 28th St #238